We are taking a nice and leisurely hike over the holidays. Deuce and Rio had made a new friend. Suddenly I see both my dogs clearly taking a scent and off goes Deuce. Poof! Gone. Out of sight. I have boasted confidently in getting Deuce back from pretty much any distraction and this – whatever they scented was a distraction with a 99% success rate.
All it takes is for me to invite him to take the tug toy and distractions be gone. Not too long ago, we were taking another off-leash hike and apparently, a pack of coyotes were having a celebration. Both my dogs noticed this and now Deuce is dashing down the hill hoping to meet-up with his “cousins”. I am in a state of panic at the prospect of Deuce joining them. I call him back with the tug.
So, after Deuce is running away from me, I call him back to take the tug to no avail. I then call him back using a verbal cue that also is quite predictable for Deuce recalling back, which is the “that’ will do” phrase I use when we are actually sheepherding (top activity for this Border collie); implying that he must stop what he is doing. Again, no Deuce. My mind is racing as I think that I lost my dog on the first day of the year.
I decide to walk in the direction where I saw Deuce take off now with Rio next to me on a leash. After about 600ft I turn to find Deuce at the edge of a big drop and on the opposite side of where Rio and I are standing. I realize then that if he tried to join us he can easily get injured as the drop in front of him is quite a drop and now it all becomes clear to me. Deuce was kind of trapped.
I ask him to stay put not wanting to drop into the wash in an attempt to join us on the other side, and Rio and I walk further down to find a place where we can join Deuce. He parallels us and once we fond a drop he came rushing to us. Perhaps more relieved than I was.
I leash him while I tell him what a good boy he is. No, there is no point in scolding him.
With my dog back to safety, I try to put the pieces of puzzle together: Deuce takes off after something interesting. He hears me calling but now he cannot find a way to get back.
The point then and the lesson that I think people miss sometimes is that dogs can and do get lost on a regular basis. People wrongly assume that their dog will use its nose to find its way back to us. Well, maybe.
It is also possible that Deuce was not distraught, as he never vocalized in an effort to unite with the group.
After we were all united, we continued our walk with Deuce still on leash. He has no problem walking next to me. We get to a soft sandy wash and Rio and her new friend are gearing up for some fantastic and energized dog play. I let Deuce off to enjoy in the game as we watch almost in full silence as these three jump & chase, and stop to catch their breath.
I learned something about dogs in general and specifically about Deuce. Yes, yes he is a Border collie but still this boy could not find his way back to me. Sometimes we give dogs too much credit as to what they can do, when instead we need to be open to the possibility of something else preventing the dog from coming back to us – as in this incident – or just to be able to carry through with our daily requests.